NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Assessing the Gains from E-Commerce

Paul Dolfen, Liran Einav, Peter J. Klenow, Benjamin Klopack, Jonathan D. Levin, Laurence Levin, Wayne Best

NBER Working Paper No. 25610
Issued in February 2019
NBER Program(s):The Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, The Industrial Organization Program, The Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

E-Commerce represents a rapidly growing share of consumer spending in the U.S. We use transactions-level data on credit and debit cards from Visa, Inc. between 2007 and 2017 to quantify the resulting consumer surplus. We estimate that E-Commerce spending reached 8% of consumption by 2017, yielding consumers the equivalent of a 1% permanent boost to their consumption, or over $1,000 per household. While some of the gains arose from saving travel costs of buying from local merchants, most of the gains stemmed from substituting to online merchants. Higher income cardholders gained more, as did consumers in more densely populated counties.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25610

 
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